It’s All About The Genre: What Every Writer Needs To Know

When I started having children six years ago, my reading life went down the toilet. I tried to keep up. I bought the latest books from my favorite authors. I tried to go to local signings. I tried to read in the car, on the bus, and even in the bathroom. Every minute stolen was worth it.

Now, we are done and our baby is about to turn one this year. All I have to show for it is a stack of books on my nightstand that need me. Stacks on the floor that need my attention. My husband just looks at me and rolls his eyes. He gave me a Paper White Kindle for Christmas. I think he is secretly hoping I stop buying physical books. That is another post for another day.

My point here is that lengths of time have gone by without me reading. The book world has gone on without me. How dare they add new genres and new authors without telling me!

Three years ago I started to get back into the groove and take writing seriously. I was ready. I needed to get back into reading which is a passion of mine. I discovered I was lost for the first time in a world I knew so well. I didn’t know what NA meant or MG or Steampunk. So I figured if I didn’t know, then there are a lot of people out there who don’t either. Both reader and writer alike. This post is for you!

From the research I did online, I created a list of genres and a summary for each. I know there are a lot of sub genres but I am mainly focusing on what has been popular in the last 10 years. If I’m missing a genre please tell me below in the comments area. For me as a reader and a writer it’s important to know in what genre to place my stories. These days it’s all about the genre!

Picture Books
Combines visual and verbal narratives in a book format, most often aimed at young children.
Chapter Books
Tell the story through prose with plentiful illustrations. Age 7-10. Very short length.
Middle Grade (MG)
Focus on friends, family and the character’s immediate world; characters react to what happens to them. Age 8-12. Shortened Length.
Young Adult (YA)
Explores the world from a young person’s point of view. Age 13-18.
New Adult
Deals with more adult issues, with more intensity. It hovers between PG and R.
All about sex and different types of sex. Usually someone being dominated over.
Imaginary worlds and mystical creatures. Magic, spells, wizards, knights, princesses, etc. Quests and
battles for good and evil.
High Fantasy
Defined either by its setting in an imaginary world or by the epic stature of its characters, themes and plot. Heroic Romance.
Typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
Science Fiction
Incorporates various types of science into its story, settings, characters and the challenges that they must overcome. Science becomes it’s own character.
War & Military
Primary action takes place in a field of armed combat, or in a domestic setting (or home front) where the characters are preoccupied with the preparations for, or recovery from, war.
Literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.
A work in which real events and people are written about in novel form.
A certain atmosphere of unexplainable dread from outer, unknown forces. To scare you.
Deals with the supernatural. Ghosts, spirits, and strange happenings.
Intended to arouse feelings of excitement or suspense. Often involving illegal activities or
espionage, sex, violence, etc.
The process of solving a crime, rather than the details of the crime itself. A puzzle to solve.
True Crime
Focuses its story on the crime scene and the criminal mind.
Women’s Fiction
Fiction about women’s issues for a female readership. Very commercially appealing. Overcoming personal and external diversity.
Literary Fiction
Style and technique are often as important as subject matter.
A love relationship between a man and a woman pervades the plot. Often told from the Heroine’s viewpoint.
Clean Romance
No descriptive sex. Only implication and passionate kisses.
A story appearing in regular installments. Very popular right now.
Flash Fiction
Fiction that is extremely brief, typically only a few hundred words or fewer in its entirety.
A short novel or a long short story.
Short Story
No subplots.
Verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that creates emotional responses.
Historical Fiction
Set in a recognizable period of history. Refers to ordinary people’s lives with political or social events of the time.
Fractured Fairy Tales
Uses fairy tales that you know and changes characters, setting, plot, or points of view.
Christian Fiction
Expounds and illustrates a Christian world view in its plot, its characters, or both. Deals with Christian themes in a positive way.
Action is the key element, overshadowing characters,
theme and setting.
Defined by a specific time and place. Take place between 1800-1890. Set west of the Mississippi. A rugged hero.
Creation of an utterly horrible or degraded society that is generally headed to an irreversible oblivion, or dystopia.
defined by the socio-economic realities and culture of its characters. Tone is usually dark, focusing on the underside of city living.
A fictional book set in contemporary or modern times.
Graphic Novels
A novel in comic-strip format.
A digital or CD recording of a reading of a book, typically a novel.
Involves characters, plot lines or themes portraying male or female homosexual behavior.
Cyber Tech Thriller
Technology becomes a major character.
Makes fun of someone or an issue. It can be humorous or dark.
Originally a long poem celebrating the exploits of a factual or fictitious hero, but now applied to prose works.
Atmospheric, historical settings, mystery, peril, romantic relationships, and a sense of foreboding.

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